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Presley launches new PAC to advance...

Presley launches new PAC to advance Democratic candidates, causes

By: Frank Corder - May 8, 2024

Commissioner Brandon Presley announces run for Governor. (Photo from announcement video)

  • The former PSC Commissioner and Democratic nominee for governor in 2023 says the new political action committee will focus on local elections coming in 2025.

After suffering defeat in his bid to become governor last year, Democrat Brandon Presley is launching a new political action committee to engage with voters on the local and state level.

The announcement of the PAC came on the heels of Presley’s top campaign priority – Medicaid expansion – dying in the Legislature this session.

“Well, that does it. The derailment of the first, real Medicaid expansion negotiations due to pettiness and the need-to win, regardless of the lack of care for working poor people is the last straw for me,” the former four term Public Service Commissioner shared on X (formerly Twitter). “The last two weeks have shown us clearly that to #saveourstate, we had better get to work. I’m all in.”

Presley is now the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Edelen Renewables.

According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, the Save our State Political Action Committee, or SOS PAC’s organizational paperwork was signed on Friday and processed in their office on Tuesday. Presley is listed as the President/Director with Martha Morrow named as Treasurer. The stated purpose of the committee is to “support and/or oppose local and state candidates for public office in the State of Mississippi.”

Speaking with Presley Tuesday afternoon, he told Magnolia Tribune that an announcement of the PAC’s board would be forthcoming “probably in a week or so.”

The immediate focus of the new PAC, according to Presley, is next year’s municipal races.

“Local government is a place in which it’s very important for voters to be engaged and know what’s going on and get involved in races there. This is one way where we can help engage voters, at least pay attention to races that are going to be on the ballot,” Presley said.

Presley, the former Mayor of Nettleton, added that while campaigning around the state last year, he saw where voter engagement “is just low.” He said the PAC will be a help to the Democratic Party in its “infrastructure building.”

“Eighty-something percent of legislative races went uncontested last time. That number’s probably way higher in the municipal races that we see,” Presley opined, adding that the PAC’s focus on engaging citizens would also be a good way to “recruit some candidates.”

The 2025 election cycle will feature elections in the vast majority of cities and towns across the state. While slower to make the transition from being predominantly filled with Democrats than has occurred with legislative and statewide offices, municipal and county level offices have increasingly shifted to the Republican column in Mississippi since 2008.

Austin Barbour (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Austin Barbour, a longtime Republican political strategist in Mississippi, points to the election of former President Barack Obama, “further left than former President Bill Clinton,” as the beginning of local and county officials in the Magnolia State switching to the Republican Party.

“And it’s only continued that way since 2008,” Barbour said. “One of the biggest weaknesses of the Democratic state party is their infrastructure. I saw where Presley is wanting to address that, and they need to.”

State Rep. Cheikh Taylor, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, believes the new PAC is integral to the future success of the party.

“Brandon Presley, being the man that he is, the candidate that he is, the future governor as he is, has seen the wherewithal of helping candidates up and down the ticket to strengthen the base of the Democratic Party,” Taylor told Magnolia Tribune.

Chairman Taylor said from where he sits, what the state is seeing is the Democratic Party taking a stronger position in the state of Mississippi.

“Without any denying, we were very successful in undoing a horrible bill with Medicaid expansion, unified like never before. There’s momentum, there’s trust in the party and the emphasis is in infrastructure, and that’s exactly what Brandon Presley is lending a hand to,” Taylor. “We have no misgivings about the hill that we have to climb, fighting a supermajority, fighting a red state, the cornerstone of bad bills — that being Mississippi. With efforts like this and this PAC, it gives us mobility to stave off and also push back when it comes to Democrats who ran as Democrats and switched to Republicans. It also gives us the ability to attract new, fresh, young, trained leaders.”

The Democratic Party Chairman said their candidates are going to come from “every hamlet and village” in the state, all 82 counties.

“That’s what we’re offering, a restructuring of politics in the state of Mississippi, and Brandon Presley is a major part of that with this PAC,” Taylor said.

Barbour, for his part, points out that starting a PAC is one thing, but starting a PAC and raising real money is a totally different thing.

“We shall see if they’re able to raise any real money into that PAC. I think it’s much more difficult because there’s not a history of Democratic candidates really being able to raise a lot of money unless it’s national money that’s coming in from the DGA or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign,” Barbour said. “Unless they’re able to bring in national money, I’m afraid it’s likely to struggle raising money. But we’ll see.”

During the 2023 cycle, Presley raised more funds than any Democratic candidate in state history, raking in over $12.5 million, the vast majority of which came from national Democratic organizations and out-of-state donors.

Chairman Taylor embraces that fact, noting that he believes there is “only $5-6 million to be had in Mississippi in any given election cycle.” Yet, he believes the party’s embrace of certain issues and the messaging around those policies will attract funds to flow into the new PAC and the state party.

State Rep. Cheikh Taylor

“We know that the appeal to the Democratic Party stretches outside of our borders. Raising money for the cause of Medicaid expansion, to stop our hospitals from closing, to shore up a really clean ballot initiative process, fully funding education, those things that are Democratic in nature has worldwide appeal,” Taylor said. “In fact, I can tell you personally that there are many states that have helped us fundraise for the state of Mississippi. So, yes, we know that money is limited in Mississippi, but we also know our messaging is on point and our messaging has national appeal so attracting money to the state of Mississippi will no longer be an issue.”

Presley has committed to donate $50,000 to the new PAC. He confirmed to Magnolia Tribune that the funds would come from his gubernatorial campaign, saying, “That’s right. We’ll move it over to that [PAC].”

As of the required January 2024 filing, Presley’s candidate campaign finance report showed him with $172,170 cash on hand.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: